Register now GHSM Annual Lecture October 17th Professor Emily Martin “Objectivity and Trained Judgment: Toward an ethnography of experimental psychology”

The Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King’s College London is proud to host Professor Emily Martin for a public lecture on Monday 17th October at 18:30 in the Auditorium, Ground Floor, Franklin Wilkins Building, Stamford Street London.

Register for the annual lecture here:

A drinks reception will follow the lecture.


Professor Emily Martin

Objectivity and Trained Judgment: Toward an ethnography of experimental psychology

Historians of psychology have described how the “introspection” of early Wundtian psychology largely came to be ruled out of experimental psychology settings by the mid-20th century. In this talk Emily will take a fresh look at the years before this process was complete — from the vantage point of early ethnographic and psychological field expeditions. She will discuss the importance of the psychological research conducted during and after the 1898 Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits Islands (CAETS) in the history of anthropology and psychology and explore some possible ways of approaching experimental cognitive psychology ethnographically.  The focus will be on the ways ‘practice trials’ in contemporary experiments complicate the ideal of objectivity.

Biography and current research

Emily Martin is a Professor of Anthropology at New York University.  Her publications include: The Woman in the Body: A cultural Analysis of Reproduction (1987), which was awarded the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Eileen Basker Prize for outstanding research in gender and health; Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in America from the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS (1995); Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture (2007) which was the winner of the 2009 Diana Forsythe Prize for the best book of feminist anthropological research on work, science, and technology.

Emily is currently finishing ethnographic research on a new project that involves the history of the human subject in experimental psychology. How and why did early anthropologists and psychologists imagine that the complex social lives of human beings could be captured in experiments organized around dependent and independent variables? Were the social lives of subjects actually extinguished in these experimental models or do traces always remain even today? What are the implications of such traces for a science whose findings exercise immense influence in contemporary daily life, positing knowledge about cognition, emotion, perception, and so on?

She initially learned about the field by serving as a volunteer subject in a variety of kinds of psychological experiments.  Over the last couple of years she has taken courses in advanced cognitive neuroscience and set up observational research in laboratories. She has conducted ethnographic participant observation with several experimental psychologists, working on attention, memory, and a variety of cognitive processes. She has recently given lectures on this emerging project at the University of California, Berkeley and San Diego, at the University of Missouri and at University College London. She is now writing several papers and a book manuscript based on this research, under the working title “Experiments of the mind.”


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